In one of his best time trial performances of his career, Richie Porte rides his way onto the 2020 Tour de France podium.
It was one of the most thrilling finishes of the Tour’s overall podium in decades. And for Richie Porte, a long-sought-after dream came true.
Porte finished the 36.2-kilometer race of truth in the penultimate stage of the 2020 Tour de France in 57 minutes and 16 seconds, netting him third place for the race and securely setting him on the Tour’s final podium step. A life-long dream to be on the Tour de France final podium had just taken a big step into reality. Porte only needs to get safely through Sunday’s mostly ceremonious final stage into Paris to make it official.
“For me, it’s an absolute dream. I grew up watching the Tour on the other side of the world, seeing guys like Robbie McEwen, Cadel Evans, and Brad McGee. To finally crack the podium here is an absolutely incredible feeling. It’s going to take a little while to sink in, but, you know, it’s been a journey. Most of you know the battles that I’ve had, the dramas along the way,” said Porte.
“It doesn’t matter what races you have won, the Tour’s the one you are judged on,” he added. “I said to my wife that the photo that I want to have when I retire is the one standing on the podium in Paris.
I started getting time checks from [Director] Kim Andersen, then on the radio he said, 'Three K to go, Richie, you're going to get your dream!' It was such a sweet moment.
Porte started the day 1 minute and 39 seconds from third, held by Miguel Lopez (Astana). After all the tough battles in the high mountains and thwarting off disaster with a courageous chase in Stage 18, Porte finished it off with a superb performance in the time trial.
“It’s been a good battle between Landa, Lopez, and myself, but in a time trial I knew I should be able to beat them, though you still have those lingering doubts in the back of your mind. I had a good team around me, and they were really confident in me. I started getting time checks from [Director] Kim Andersen, then on the radio he said, ‘Three K to go, Richie, you’re going to get your dream!’ It was such a sweet moment.”
You can't do this without a team and what a team we had!
The Trek-Segaredo team rode strongly in support of Porte for three weeks, but it was the World Champion who was designated as Porte’s bodyguard. And Mads Pedersen played the babysitter role to perfection.
“There’s never an easy Tour de France. I came here in great shape, and the team didn’t put that much stress on me. Every day has been full gas, and all the guys played their part. I know I shouldn’t single anyone out, but Mads Pedersen has been absolutely incredible. He’s probably got more belief in me and my abilities than I do. Every night he would come to my room and explain: ‘this is how it’s going to be; you follow my wheel and it’ll be fine.’ And it was. You can’t do this without a team and what a team we had!”
If I turn the television on and you're at the back of the peloton, I'll be a little bit pissed.
An unprecedented Tour de France raced in September amongst an on-going coronavirus pandemic threw a hiccup into Porte’s personal life. He missed his baby daughter’s birth on September 4, and a podium in Paris has eased his feelings in making that ultimate sacrifice.
“Once the whole coronavirus thing kicked off, and the Tour was rescheduled, I guess that’s just me, the luck I have, that I would miss the birth of my daughter. My wife Gemma said to me: ‘Go to the Tour, do your thing.’ She had a plan. The other thing she said was, ‘If I turn the television on and you’re at the back of the peloton, I’ll be a little bit pissed.
“The team gave me the option to leave, which was incredible for a team to do. It’s a very humane team. I came here, and I knew I had a mission to achieve. To miss the birth – I feel like this goes a little bit of the way to make it worthwhile.”
With one more sprint on Champs-Élysées in the final stage Sunday the team has one last opportunity for a stage win, and the question was asked of Porte: Is there anything you can do to help Pedersen in tomorrow’s fast finish?
“Probably get out of the way, to be honest,” Porte smiled. “If he doesn’t have to babysit me like he did for the last three weeks, then that’s the best thing I can do. He deserves a win tomorrow. It would be the cherry on the cake.”